Reconnect with the Covenant

The Uniting Church WA, through the Social Justice Commission, has released a Covenanting resource for its congregations.

A Guide to Congregations in Walking Together as First and Second Peoples encourages and supports councils of the church to re-commit to the Covenant with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), to engage and deepen covenantal relationships, and to inspire the church to take action for creating change. Continue Reading

Tranby Engagement Hub a WA first

Uniting WA is thrilled to have opened the doors to its transformed Tranby Engagement Hub (Tranby), Perth’s first co-designed and purpose-built crisis intervention space for people experiencing homelessness.

Minister for Community Services, Simone McGurk, officially launched the newly renovated Tranby, made possible by a $1.7m grant from Lotterywest, at an event in June.Continue Reading

Uniting Church WA calls to protect LGBTQA+ community from harmful ‘conversion therapies’

The Uniting Church WA calls on the Western Australian Government to work closely with the LGBTQA+ community and survivors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Change Efforts (SOGICE), including people of faith, to introduce legislation to protect people from harmful ‘conversion therapies’.

This practice, which encourages efforts to directly and indirectly attempt to change or supress a person’s sexuality or gender identity, has caused serious, ongoing, and tragic harm to those affected. Continue Reading

Uniting Church WA calls to end deaths in custody

The Uniting Church WA calls on the Western Australian Government to commit to ending preventable deaths in custody, noting the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in WA’s justice system, particularly among young people.

The church also calls on the government to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody; embed culturally appropriate mental health support in police lockups, prisons and places of detention; broaden cultural awareness training for police, juvenile justice and prison officers; and work with Aboriginal Elders, community leaders and organisations to co-design an Aboriginal Justice Agreement.Continue Reading

Earth, Sea and Sky: Sustainable September 2021

Each year, the Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church WA resources the church for Sustainable September by preparing and distributing worship material for congregations within the WA Synod.

This year, the theme is ‘Earth, Sea and Sky’, which focuses on nourishing and caring for our natural resources. The worship materials, including a full liturgy outline, sermon reflections and PowerPoint slides, cover the four Sundays in September.

Each Sunday concentrates on a different aspect of the theme – soil, waters, skies and humankind’s relationship with the Earth.

Wendy Hendry, Uniting Church WA Social Justice Officer, said, “We are encouraged to know that congregations set aside the month of September to reflect, pray and take action on issues of sustainability and our Christian call to care for creation.

“The statement made at Assembly back in 2006 is as relevant in 2021 as it was back then, and continues to underpin the work we do, including our focus on Sustainable September.”

The statement, For the Sake of the Planet and All its People, said “we renew our commitment to move towards sustainable non-exploitative living, believing that God’s creation — the Earth itself and all the life that it supports — is precious and the Earth’s resources exist for the good of all now as well as future generations.”

Wendy said “We’re thankful for the work Rev Gordon Scantlebury has done in creating so much of the resource material, which are designed to be a user-friendly package for churches with or without a minister in placement.

“Worship leaders can use the material as is or adapt according to their congregation style. We encourage you to get creative with it, connect with relevant examples of sustainability and environmental issues in your community, and facilitate discussion within your congregation.”

Sustainable September 2021 worship resources are available to download at ecochurcheswa.net/worship-resources.

For more information, contact the Social Justice Unit at social.justice@wa.uca.org.au

Mikaela Turner

Christians unite for Afghanistan

In a significant sign of unity, major church denominations and Christian organisations have come together to support Afghan Refugees, launching the Christians United for Afghanistan campaign.

The Uniting Church in Australia as well as Sydney Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals as well as the Australian Christian Lobby, Micah Australia and Common Grace have signed on to support the campaign.

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KCO dreaming

This year, Kids Camp Out (KCO) was postponed in March due to significantly lower registrations. Unfortunately, this was not unexpected as the number of campers have been noticeably declining over the past five years due to Uniting Church WA children growing up and being in high school, with some now being young adults.

KCO has been a Presbytery wide event for primary school aged children in the Uniting Church WA for around 40 years.

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Sharing stories for healing: NAIDOC Week at BKI

Beananging Kwuurt Institute (BKI), a Uniting Church WA Aboriginal community services organisation in Queens Park, Perth, held a NAIDOC Week storytelling event on Wednesday 7 July. Guests were invited to listen, learn, share, and enjoy kangaroo stew and damper together. This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Heal Country!’

In the 1930s, the site where BKI now stands was set up as Sister Kate’s Children’s Cottage Home, an institution for Indigenous children taken from their families, who are now known as the Stolen Generations.

Auntie Helen Skiadas, Board Member of Beananging Kwuurt Institute, spoke saying they are hoping to bring healing to people with a past connection to the site.

“We hope that as we slowly restore some of the land, it will heal some of the dark past,” she said. “We haven’t stopped dreaming of change here at BKI – and renewal – and we hope for happier times of joy and gladness for all our people.”

After a Welcome to Country by Kevin Fitzgerald, Board Member at BKI, and the raising of the Aboriginal flag by Tramaine Dukes, RAAF Indigenous Liaison Officer Flt Lt, Jo Abrahams shared some of the history of Beananging Kwuurt Institute and her personal connection to the place. Jo is a Ngarluma woman with ties to Roebourne. She has worked with the WA Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation, and has spent the last ten years reconnecting with her past.

Jo’s grandmother and great uncle were taken as children from their parents in the Pilbara region to be raised at the Sister Kate’s site. She said that Sister Kate’s intentions for the mission were well meaning, but with AO Neville’s government policy at the time, this is not how things played out.

“Children were selectively chosen for this place based on the colour of their skin,” Jo said. “Almost white children were actively targeted and slated for removal. These children were thought to have the best chance for assimilation into the dominating European culture.

“Generations of Aboriginal families in this state existed on a knife’s edge. The colour of a child’s skin making them a target of removal. Neville’s obsession with skin colour resulted in insulting, painful and ludicrous practices. Especially given that siblings of the same mum and dad could be graded differently by his designation, not actually by their bloodlines.

“Under his policies of assimilation, Aboriginality was something to be escaped, denied, watered down and eventually bred out. It sowed seeds of shame and guilt, self loathing and lostness.”

This policy of removal stayed in place until 1964, with amendments.

“What do we do now in WA with the hangover from previous generations? What have we inherited that needs to be disinherited?” Jo asked.

“One thing Neville didn’t factor on, is me and many others like me who are so proud of their Aboriginality. And that Aboriginality has got nothing to do with colour, and all to do with bloodline. We’re proud of our bloodline and where we’ve come from and the people who’ve come before us.

“There are still Aboriginal people who believe the lies that were told in this place – that they don’t matter. Be patient and understand there is a deep brokenness that’s hanging over from places like this.

“We don’t need more police officers in this space, we need more grief counselors to help us to deal with our brokenness, and support to give us spaces where we can come together and heal with each other.

“It’s a shared experience and understanding that brings space for healing.”

Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, blessed the gathering, before guests enjoyed a lunch of kangaroo stew and damper.

“May God bless you and guide you, and help us to walk alongside with you,” she said.

A Dreaming Session for BKI will be held on Wednesday 21 July, 10.00am to 4.00pm. Guests are invited to come along and share their dreams for what they would like to see happen at Beananging Kwuurt Institute, 188 Treasure Rd Queens Park, into the future.

Heather Dowling

India’s ‘Corona Tsunami’

India’s COVID-19 surge has overloaded its struggling heath system and is causing thousands of deaths per day.

Uniting Church partners, the Church of North India (CNI), are not immune. Battling to keep people fed as a second lockdown wreaks havoc, and spreading critical health information to help beat the spread of the disease, they’re on the front-line of the response in their communities.

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